This week I wanted to focus on something that threads through everything I do – sustainability. I’m not perfect by a long shot, but totally committed to finding planet friendly ways to live and work always. I took Environmental Science at A-Level and wrote essays about climate change. We knew then that what we were doing would create catastrophic results in 40 years. And here we are.
But this How To Guide isn’t about negativity. It’s about coming together and using the power of micro business to LEAD change and show customers.
Being more green and, more importantly, telling your customers about the journey, is not only essential to stand out, but also a great way to keep costs down and profits up.
So here are some thinkings and tips to help you step a little further along the sustainability path:
Think less about CSR
Think less about CSR (corporate, social responsibility) and more ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance). What this means in essence, is that so far in business, we have focussed on doing a little bit when and where we can. Using ESG as our guide, we can start to embed planet friendly and ethical procedures and activities into every corner of our businesses and from the start. Environmental, explicitly reminds us that what we do is inextricably linked to nature, wildlife, planet. Social keeps us focussed on ethical treatment of humans, community support and our supply chain impacts. Finally, Governance helps us also focus on how we plan to run our business strategy like where we bank, what we continue to, how we pay people, what our values are.
Remember that it's a journey
When I ran my first business, we were 'eco' but felt worried about sharing it until we were perfect. The world is so complex now, that simply sharing what you're already doing and what you're hoping to do is better. You will not only be more authentic and gain more trust, but you will also inspire your customers to choose and do better too. Keep a page on your website for sustainability as a working, constantly updated beast!
Become more circular
Traditionally, business creates, produces and sells. Now you can make more impact by creating a new circular system. Think about how you can slow down the cycle of your sector, reuse, lengthen life span and more to reduce waste, production & single use of items. Here are some examples: Source carefully from business that share your values around the planet and ethical practice.
Create or produce stuff that lasts for a long time. If it doesn't last, make it refillable for example.
Build things that can easily be repurposed e.g. candle glass into a real wine glass.
Give back as part of your service by donating to a planet friendly charity.
Reduce waste in everything you do
Take back used items from customers to re use
Remember that recycling is the lowest form of sustainability - the last resort!
Get your customers involved by sharing what you do
For example seed impregnated packaging that they can plant, packaging that they can bring back to you, a pay it forward scheme that gives them a discount etc etc.
Tell great stories around sustainability
Share your journey, share who your suppliers are, tell folks about why it's important to your business to be part of the solution and not the problem. Do this in blogs, in posts, reels and on your website. Maybe you could have a QR code on all your literature and packaging that takes them to more information with a single click.
Be a sustainability leader
We can use our voices more loudly by showing people how they can make changes too and what impact that has.